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  • Laura

Patience, My friends, patience

"Patience is a tree whose root is very bitter but whose fruit is very sweet."

This quote was on a wall hanging in my mother's kitchen when I was a child (well, honestly, it's still there!). I remember whole-heartedly hating the saying with every fiber of my being. I had little patience for most things – especially not for myself.

Fast forward to the here and now: I have three dogs –  two yellow Labradors and a Miniature Pinscher. They are (mostly) patient about things, with one HUGE exception: my male Labrador starts barking at roughly a quarter to five every evening. A friend of mine deemed it a temper tantrum, and she wasn't wrong! His bark at that time is pitifully high-pitched, and he stares at me in the eyes as he barks his ever-loving head off. I wait until 5:00 pm to feed him because I know if I give into 4:45, then he'll start to bark for dinner at 4:30 – giving into him would be like a gateway drug.

So, what do I do when my baby boy is completely out of sorts because he is hangry? Sometimes, I try to reason with him by trying to distract him. He – more often than not – does not fall for that, but it can buy me some time (fifteen minutes of being barked at by a 75-pound dog is very, very aggravating).

So, why am I telling you about my dog's patience, or more accurately, his lack thereof? Because we're not the only ones with patience problems, and sometimes it is easier to see it in a beloved pet than it is to see it in ourselves. 

Why is having patience so important, anyway? Well, if you can cultivate a practice of patience, so many things can improve. When I practice patience, I notice a reduction in my migraines, less pain in my back, and the ability to fall asleep more easily—not to mention a much sunnier disposition. Most importantly, however, I can more effectively beat back the Beast that is suicidality when I have patience in my back pocket.

Now, you might wonder, what does patience have to do with suicidality? When I am patient with others, I am far less likely to accidentally drive people away because of inappropriately expressed anger. Sometimes, when I feel anger, it manifests as anger towards others, but most often, it manifests as anger towards myself that I used to have absolutely no idea how to resolve. (Note: It can feel safer to lash out at others when you don't know how to fix you.) 

Patience also goes hand in hand with perfectionism, which I've talked about in my previous blog posts. Someone without patience is often an exceedingly perfectionistic person. Why, you ask? When you don't treat yourself with patience, you, at best, get in your own way. At worst, you lose sight of what is important to you, and you can fall victim to perceived imperfection  -- and have a short fuse instead of the patience you should treat others, especially yourself.

Don't get me wrong, there are times to be perfectionistic (say on the SAT or the LSAT), and I say yes! Learn all the mathematical formulas and as many vocabulary words as possible. When I look at life, however, all I can tell you is that it won't go perfectly – in fact, it almost certainly won't go as planned. There's a Yiddish proverb that says, "We plan, God laughs." Truth!!!

Don't look at this and size yourself up, feeling like you'll never get past your imperfections and never have any compassion towards yourself. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do this—and remember, past failures do not dictate your present or future successes. Every day, we start with a blank slate. Every day is a new chance.

Remember, you can choose to fight the Beast just as easily as you can choose to be its victim – the fight might be difficult, but you can do this. Remember that you are strong, and if you are someone who demands patience or perfectionism of yourself, be kind to your own mind, use perfectionism constructively (say to dot I's and cross t's), and use your tendency towards impatience to fight back the Beast (there's NO time like the present to fight the Beast).). Do NOT let the Beast use these two characteristics to beat you down. Turn the strength within you that you channel into impatience and perfectionism into a formidable force to put the Beast into its place. You've got this!

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Jun 27

Patience is a virtue that we would all be better off we could learn to have it. Life never goes exactly as planned. Nothing is ever perfect, nothing will ever be perfect, but we can strive for perfection. I do it daily in my work, in my business for and with my clients ... but then there is the grace of patience.

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